New Jersey Update On Evictions Related To COVID-19
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently expanded the grounds for commercial landlords to pursue eviction that includes nonpayment of rent in specific circumstances. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Supreme Court postponed all commercial landlord/tenant trials and barred the issuance of Writs of Possession arising out of Final Judgments in Foreclosure in commercial foreclosures. Thereafter, in July 2020, the Supreme Court authorized commercial evictions to resume under very limited grounds, that in most circumstances were not available to landlords.
What Does The Order Entail
Recently, in February 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court expanded the limited circumstances in which a landlord may apply by Order to Show Cause for a trial in a commercial landlord/tenant matter. Specifically, the Court’s February 5, 2021 Order established a multistep process, consistent with the existing process for residential tenancies.
The Order provides that (1) a commercial landlord can file an Order to Show Cause alleging emergent circumstances, either (a) involving something other than nonpayment of rent or (b) based on nonpayment of rent that threatens the landlord’s capacity to continue their business (in the case of a pending foreclosure or tax lien); (2) the court will evaluate the application and determine whether emergent circumstances exist and a hearing should be held; and (3) if the court finds that emergent circumstances exist, the commercial tenant will be notified and a trial will be scheduled. After that trial, if the commercial landlord prevails, judgment will be entered, and a warrant of removal can be issued.
What Happenings Next
As a result of this recent Order, landlords can now, for the first time since the pandemic, seek to evict a commercial tenant if the nonpayment of rent threatens the landlord’s capacity to continue their business and risks a foreclosure or tax lien. We expect the Supreme Court to issue additional orders relaxing the restrictions on evictions in the upcoming months when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is further reduced.
How We Can Help
Santomassimo Davis LLP specializes in being the premier Outside General Counsel™ to mid-cap businesses. The issues discussed in this article are typical of those that we handle for clients as we help them navigate the legal and regulatory matters affecting their businesses. For help with these issues or to learn more about the Outside General Counsel™ solution, please contact us today.